Wednesday, August 23, 2006

SURVIVOR MEETS THE AMAZING RACE?

Oh Mylanta! Have you seen what my favorite television show is doing this season??? They've completely lost their fucking minds.

Survivor is planning a new "twist" to Season 13, set in the Cook Islands (scheduled to premiere on September 14th), and it's a controversial one. They're dividing up the tribes by race.

For the first time, 20 castaways will be divided up into 4 teams by ethnic background. There will be the White team, the African-American team, the Hispanic team, and the Asian American team. Is anyone else cringing at the discomfort this is likely to create? I can't imagine how this is going to unfold, but it can't be good. Can it?

I know this may sound like another one of my far-fetched brainchildren taken to absurd heights, but I assure you the report is true. It was announced on this morning's Early Show and the controversial concept has already got people talking. As a series-long fan of the show, I'll likely watch out of unwavering loyalty, but I must admit I have my reservations. The entire stunt seems like a cheap way to create tension, drama, and - of course - ratings, at the potential expense of racial harmony. But Producer Mark Burnett is a reality programming wizard, so perhaps I ought to give him the benefit of the doubt until I've seen how this touchy twist is handled. I just can't help but have questions.

Are viewers supposed to be "rooting" for their race? Are we supposed to be analyzing the truths and misconceptions behind racial stereotypes? And how are we to view this objectively, denying our many prejudices? It feels awkard to even think about.

Interestingly, they chose not to have an Arab/Muslim American team. We can only imagine the politically incorrect ways producers might have envisioned that playing out. Suicide drownings. Jungle Jihad. Booby-trapped immunity challenges. A deadly "merge." Better we stick to races we can SAFELY stereotype in today's delicate political climate.

I think the key here, as is the case in most reality shows, will be in the editing. How will they cram three days of footage into 50 minutes? Past contestants have complained they were unfairly portrayed by selective editing. What will they choose to show us THIS season? What exactly are they hoping will be revealed? That we're all really the same when facing the elements? Or that the stereotypes are true? Let me tackle the controversy head on by establishing some of those now.

The White team: This is the control group by which to measure the other groups: plenty of in-fighting, lying, and ego clashes.

The African-American team: Fares poorly in water challenges, quicker and stronger in other challenges, lazy around camp

The Hispanic team: Super hard-working, tight-knit group, will have the nicest looking camp, lacks leadership

The Asian-American team: Exceptional problem-solving skills, proud, hard-working, but can't steer the damn raft for shit

These lists, which I offer in jest, could go on and on given all of the racial stereotypes prevalent in society today. Is this season's "twist" meant to expose them, or crush them underfoot?

We'll all know soon enough - when the tribe has spoken...

2 comments:

barnyardfriend said...

If you saw the recent roast of bill shatner you would know that you can only say those things in the context of a roast.

However, African-Americans have been shown in scientific studies to have a higher bone density which make them poor swimmers.
http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLG,GGLG:2005-20,GGLG:en&q=higher+bone+density+african+americans

RC said...

pretty crazy stuff, i can hardly believe it.

--RC of strangeculture.blogspot.com

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